The intensified indoor living during the spring 2020 lockdown, with enhanced user awareness of the prevailing conditions in their homes, constituted a natural stress test for the housing design in place today. Surveys conducted during this period have yielded lessons for designing better intervention strategies for the residential sector, taking into account the systematic morphological and economic limitations of the buildings concerned. These considerations should inform the development of policies and strategies for improving environmental quality compatible with lower residential energy consumption and higher quality of life. This study explores the effect of occupant behaviour on home ventilation and the perception of the impact of indoor air quality on user health before and during lockdown. The method deployed consisted in monitoring environmental variables and conducting user surveys before and after restrictions came into force. The findings showed that prior to lockdown, occupants were unaware of or paid little heed to changes in indoor air quality, failed to perceive stuffiness, and, as a rule, reported symptoms or discomfort only at night during the summer months. During lockdown, however, users came to attach greater importance to air quality, and a greater sensitivity to odours and a heightened awareness of CO2 concentration prompted them to ventilate their homes more frequently. In the spring of 2020, occupants also indicated a wider spectrum of indisposition, in particular in connection with sleep patterns.
Keywords: Airtightness; COVID-19; Health effects; Indoor air quality; Lockdown; Low-income housing; Occupants’ perception; Ventilation behaviour.
© The Author(s) 2022.